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For the Hokie men's basketball team, it seems as if the bad news never stops coming. Plagued with player transfers and dismissals too numerous to count in recent years, the Hokies suffered a major blow when hyped 2004 recruit Justin Holt was dismissed from the team this week. No reason was given for Holt's dismissal, other than the ever-popular "violation of team rules."
The loss of Holt puts a big dent in Tech's four-member 2004 recruiting class, consisting of Holt, Marquie Cooke, Deron Washington, and Wynton Witherspoon. In football, losing one recruit isn't nearly as painful as it is in basketball, where one recruit is typically anywhere from a third to a sixth of the entire recruiting class.
The ACC Area Sports Journal released their final ACC men's basketball recruiting rankings, placing the Hokies seventh out of the 12 future ACC teams (BC included). But that was pre-Holt-dismissal. In a listing that ranked the 38 ACC recruits, Holt was ranked #15, two spots behind Cooke (Witherspoon was ranked #30, Washington #32).
But you can argue that Holt's dismissal hurts just as bad as losing Cooke would, maybe even more so. Unlike Cooke, who won't arrive until this summer/fall, Holt was already in Blacksburg and had been practicing with the team for months. He sat on the bench during games last year and appeared to have good chemistry with the team, particularly Carlos Dixon, who was often seen attending women's basketball games and other events with Holt.
Holt was ready to hit the ground running when he became eligible at the conclusion of first semester in December. Now, sadly, he'll just hit the road.
Weaver Makes Outstanding Wrestling Hire
On the good news front, Tech AD Jim Weaver knocked one out of the park when he hired 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist and three-time NCAA Division I champion wrestler Tom Brands to be Tech's next wrestling coach. Brands wrestled at powerhouse Iowa from 1990-92 and coached there as an assistant for 12 years before agreeing to take the Tech job this week.
Brands' list of accomplishments in wrestling is ridiculously long, and is best linked from hokiesports.com, instead of trying to reproduce them here. Let's just say they don't make letterman jackets big enough to hold all the medals Tom Brands has won in his life.
Brands was signed to a three-year contract and will earn an initial base salary of $60,000, which isn't Frank Beamer territory, but sources say it's better than the salary made by previous coach Keith Mourlam.
More important than the salary is the budget Brands will have to work with. Given a proper recruiting, travel, and scholarship budget, Brands can quickly build a program at Tech that will be competitive in the ACC, which only has five teams currently competing in wrestling: N.C. State, Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. Boston College and Miami don't offer wrestling as a varsity sport, so VT will be one of just six wrestling teams in the future ACC, making a conference championship well within reach of a well-funded, well-coached program.
And you've got to figure that with his Iowa background, Brands knows what a well-funded program looks like and wouldn't be dumb enough to step into a situation that wasn't a good one.
VT isn't Iowa when it comes to wrestling -- who is? -- but in Southwest Virginia, he'll have a relatively fertile recruiting ground, and an area of the state that is much more interested in wrestling than most locations. It's natural to worry about Brands just using VT as a stepping stone to something bigger in the world of collegiate wrestling, but who knows, he may grow to like VT and want to stay (it has happened before), if he's successful and his program is well-funded.
Hokies Settle With Big East for $1.1 Million
The financial ream job that the Big East has pulled on Virginia Tech for years now is about to come to an end. The Roanoke Times reported Wednesday that VT and the Big East have reached a compromise on $1.5 million that the league said the Hokies owed them. VT will pay $1.1 million instead.
Under VT's entry terms in the Big East, Tech was to pay $200,000 a year for the first five years of membership in the league, and $300,000 for the next five years. The last $200k payment is due in 2004-05, and VT has agreed to pay that, even though the Hokies won't even be in the league.
Even more absurd, the Big East was demanding that Tech pay the $300k per year over the following five years, from the 2005-06 academic year to the 2010-11 academic year. Apparently, they had a pretty ironclad contract, and Tech had no wiggle room, because VT will pay $1.1 million in a lump sum instead of the $1.5 million over five years.
Ridiculous. Laughable. Ludicrous. And business as usual for the Big East and Virginia Tech. When all is said and done, VT's all-sports membership in the league will have cost the Hokies $8.3 million:
Am I leaving anything out? How about the fact that VT will make $10.5 million in the first two years of ACC membership? The Hokies will get revenue-sharing checks of $6.25 million for the first two years and will pay just $2 million in entry fees.
Poorly run organizations that mistreat their membership get what they deserve, and the Big East is getting what it deserves.
The New BCS Arrangement
At first, I wondered why in the heck the BCS would go to a format where they play the four BCS bowls, THEN play the national championship game at one of the BCS bowl sites, as detailed in recent articles.
After thinking about it, it's all about TV ratings and the sponsors.
The concern of the BCS bowls was that if a fifth bowl, say the Cotton or the Gator, were added into the rotation, then each year a BCS bowl might feature -- gulp! -- a matchup of TCU or Louisville against someone. The concern was that this would kill TV ratings for that bowl, and thereby anger sponsors, who pay a lot of money for the exposure.
To get around the problem, I think the BCS has set it up so that TV ratings and sponsor value will be "doubled up" for one of the bowls each year, thus alleviating that problem.
It's simple: if for example the Orange has the national championship game, then for its "regular" BCS game, it will get the possible "dog" game involving TCU, Louisville, etc. But because that is followed up one week later by the national championship game, the bowl sponsors will still get their money's worth, the TV ratings (for at least one of the games) will be good, and the tourism dollars pumped into the local economy will actually increase over a one-bowl setup.
Of course, it remains to be seen how sponsorship will be handled for the bowls/cities that get to double up, but the solution is a clever one to the sponsor/TV ratings problem. Will it work out well? Time will tell.
Football TV Games
VT's football game with Duke will be held at noon and will be broadcast on Jefferson Pilot/Raycom this fall, giving Tech five televised games to this point:
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|TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week|
The Pre-Summer Top 150 National Basketball Prospects 2005
Newcomer's Guide to the ACC
Conference Wars, Part 1: 1978-1990
The Pre-Summer Top 30 In-State Recruits for 2005
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